Nearly there. With the launch of the regular season only hours away in North America, here's one last significant fantasy-relevant tidbit (or two) from each NHL team.
Rookie Mason McTavish (rostered in 17.5% of ESPN.com leagues) will get a plumb chance to impress at the NHL level straight out of the gates. The standout in international competition is poised to initially skate in the Ducks' top-six, either alongside center Trevor Zegras (maybe) or Ryan Strome (probably). McTavish is also expected to compete on Anaheim's No. 1 power play. A must-grab in dynasty/keeper competition, the third overall draft selection (2021) merits serious thought in deeper re-draft leagues as well.
All this rumored talk of Jakob Chychrun being moved before this winter's trade deadline, yet fellow defender Shayne Gostisbehere (84.2%) could also be shopped and ultimately dealt. An unrestricted free agent following this season, Gostisbehere led Arizona's defense - and all but three forwards - with 51 points in 2021-22, including 19 with the extra skater. Fact is, the former Flyer is dominating a smaller pond as a bigger scoring fish in Arizona, and would likely fill a less prominent role elsewhere. This is a case where invested managers may root against a trade to a better team, depending on fit. Food for fantasy thought as the season wears on.
There's sneaky fantasy value to mine from the Bruins' new-look top-six. Impressing Jim Montgomery in camp, forward Pavel Zacha (4.7%) seems to have secured a spot on the left side of fellow Czech skaters David Krejci and David Pastrnak. Boston's new coach feels so smitten with that new unit that he's shifting a healthy-again Taylor Hall to the other top scoring unit alongside Patrice Bergeron and Jake DeBrusk. While another shuffling is in order once Brad Marchand returns from injury in several weeks, for now, the table appears set for Zacha to finally break out after failing to do so year over year in New Jersey. The 25-year-old presents as a fantasy wild card, for sure.
Not surprisingly, rookie Jack Quinn (4.2%) is earning the chance to make an immediate impact at the NHL level. Committed to investing in his younger players straight off, Don Granato skated Quinn in a top-six role, alongside Casey Mittelstadt and Alex Tuch, ahead of Thursday's first opener. Fantasy managers can't sleep on this future star for long. Proving he can better than keep pace with grown-ups, Quinn burst forth for 26 goals and 35 assists in 45 contests with the Rochester Americans in last year's award-winning AHL campaign.
The forward partnership of Nazem Kadri and Andrew Mangiapane (74.7%) is terrifically intriguing from a fantasy perspective. After scoring 35 goals last season, the latter now gets to play with a center who makes everyone around him that much better. But should that combo eventually not work out, Mangiapane likely lands on the Flames' other scoring line with Jonathan Huberdeau and Elias Lindholm instead. Unless he makes a general mess of it all, there's no losing here for the 26-year-old this season. He just might score another 35 goals with a few added assists.
Montreal export Jesperi Kotkaniemi (8.2%) is apparently finding his stride in Carolina, tapped to center a second scoring line and No. 2 power play in his second run through with the Hurricanes. Competing with Andrei Svechnikov and Martin Necas, Kotkaniemi will inevitably build on this past season's output of 12 goals and 17 assists in 66 contests. Still only 22 years old, the third overall draft pick (2018) merits a roll of the dice in deeper fantasy leagues.
Could Jonathan Toews be fantasy-relevant once more? He's skating on top line and power play with Patrick Kane, under a welcome fresh face in new head coach Luke Richardson, and, by his own admission, feels "great". So maybe. This isn't to suggests fantasy managers fall over one another in trying to draft the Blackhawks captain, but maybe keep a view of how the season unfolds early on. Someone, other than Kane and defenseman Seth Jones, needs to contribute from a team stripped of key scoring figures.
Alexandar Georgiev (84.3%) is considered the No. 1 - or 1A, perhaps - goaltender for the Colorado Avalanche. So says the play-by-play TV voice of the Stanley Cup Champs, Mark Moser. Pavel Francouz (49.0%) will get his opportunities to fill in, likely regularly enough during back-to-back sets, but the starter's gig belongs to the former Ranger unless he falls hurt or stumbles.
To answer one of the summer's more captivating questions, Boone Jenner (76.8%) will center the Blue Jackets' new top line and power play, also featuring Patrik Laine and surprise signee Johnny Gaudreau. Not Jack Roslovic, not Cole Sillinger, not Kent Johnson, but the guy Columbus drafted 11 years ago. All goes well, and Jenner sticks in that desirable role, he'll collect 30 and 30 this season. Maybe more. Plus an above-average number of hits. Fantasy managers should draft the power forward accordingly.
Florida export Mason Marchment (24.4%) is earning a top-six spot alongside Tyler Seguin to open 2022-23. He's also projected to compete with Seguin on the Stars' secondary power play. After emerging with 18 goals and 29 assists in only 54 games with the Panthers this past campaign, Marchment could once again serve as an under-radar quality fantasy asset in deeper ESPN.com leagues.
After skipping preseason competition with an abdomen issue, Andrew Copp (49.1%) is expected in the lineup when the Red Wings kick of their campaign Oct. 14. Splitting his time between the Jets and Rangers last season, the long-time Winnipeg skater is projected to center a new Detroit scoring line with David Perron and Jakub Vrana. A modest fantasy asset most of his career, Copp contributed 18 points in 16 games in New York this past season. So, he demands attention in deeper leagues, at minimum.
Still a work in progress, Dylan Holloway (5.2%) is nonetheless estimated to fill a top-six slot alongside Leon Draisaitl and Zach Hyman in Edmonton's season opener. After lighting it up in preseason, the 21-year-old earned that shot. Although the healthy return of Kailer Yamamoto may knock Holloway into a third-line role, such a bump is hardly assured - through the short or long-term. At minimum, the 2020 14th overall draft pick's development should be monitored closely.
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Defenseman Brandon Montour (10.3%) is an option to anchor Florida's top power play in 2022-23. New coach Paul Maurice experimented with the 28-year-old in that spot for more than just a lark this preseason. This isn't to suggest Aaron Ekblad has lost the gig - he hasn't - only that there's some flexibility in play. Montour potted 11 goals and 26 assists in his first full run with the Panthers this past campaign. There's good reason to believe his power-play tally of seven points will increase, whether competing on the No. 1 special teams unit or the second.
Forward Kevin Fiala says he's never played with a center as good as Anze Kopitar. Presumably that means we can then expect the former Minnesota skater to even improve upon last year's explosive output of 33 goals and 52 assists. Sounds good. In all seriousness, a point/game doesn't feel too outrageous an expectation for the still-only 26-year-old in his new L.A. digs. While Kopitar himself should reach the 70-point mark without much issue. On the captain's other wing, Adrian Kempe rounds out the Kings' trio of coveted fantasy assets up front.
With the veteran netminder turning 38 years old in late November, there are concerns about how much Marc-Andre Fleury (85.4%) is going to play for Minnesota this season. While coach Dean Evason won't toss out an estimated number, here's what we do know: The multi-Cup-winning goalie wants to suit up whenever possible. "It's fun to play," Fleury insisted this camp. "It's more fun than sitting on the bench." He's fit and feels fabulous. When healthy, he gives the likely playoff-bound Wild the best chance at victory night in and night out (no offense to the far less experienced/successful Filip Gustavsson). And he wrapped up preseason play with a 22-save, 5-1 victory over the Stars. If all goes well, 60 starts or so is hardly out of the question for the recent Vezina winner (2021). The age-is-but-a-number star should be considered a top-10 fantasy netminder to start 2022-23.
He made it. Juraj Slafkovsky (13.1%) is officially pegged to launch 2022-23 as member of the Montreal Canadiens. "I texted my parents (back in Slovakia) right away that they can come now," Slafkovsky told the Montreal Gazette after practice Monday. Even more promising, this year's No. 1 draft selection is projected to kick off the season on a scoring line with Christian Dvorak and Brendan Gallagher. A spot on the power play shouldn't be far off. A no-brain fantasy acquisition in dynasty/keeper leagues, the formidable power forward could also reward managers in deeper redraft leagues this campaign, as long as he sticks in the bigs.
One of only two teams to have played meaningful games, the Predators already have three goals through only two contests from one of their key offseason acquisitions. As anticipated by many, Nino Niederreiter (36.5%) got off to a banging start with his new club, skating on a scoring line with Ryan Johansen and Kiefer Sherwood. Notorious for running hot/cold, now is the occasion to include Niederreiter in most fantasy lineups. Until he - not inevitably but probably - cools off.
Fantasy managers in deeper leagues shouldn't pass on Alexander Holtz (1.9%) if he manages to stick on a top scoring line with Jack Hughes. The 20-year-old did his best in trying to convince coach Lindy Ruff to leave him well enough alone there by scoring a goal (assisted by Hughes) and earning an assist (on a Hughes' goal) in New Jersey's final preseason win on Saturday. Drafted seventh overall in 2020, Holtz (nearly) pounded out a point/game with the AHL Comets this past season.
While this hardly qualifies as a shocking revelation, Lane Lambert is reportedly (Newsday) determined to get a lot more offense out of Mathew Barzal (78.1%). It's a top priority of sorts for the Islanders new head coach. After erupting for 85 points in his rookie season five years ago, the freshly extended top center hasn't neared that mark since. A return to such productive ways would certainly boost Barzal up a fantasy tier or two. Lambert's commitment could help sway some fantasy managers who may be otherwise wavering on the 25-year-old.
Well. After reports to the contrary, it appears Vitali Kravtsov (4.8%) could compete in the Rangers opener after all. To boot, on a scoring line with Artemi Panarin and Vincent Trocheck. The rookie wasn't expected to make New York's opening night lineup, and yet here we are. A dynasty consideration for certain, most fantasy managers in re-draft leagues should take more of a wait-and-see approach with Kravtsov. But it looks like the 22-year-old is going to get a legitimate shot, at least.
Managers in fantasy leagues of any reasonable size shouldn't sleep on Jake Sanderson (16.1%). After a strong camp, the rookie defenseman is projected to enjoy important minutes, including turns with Ottawa's secondary power play - a special teams unit that also includes Alex DeBrincat and Claude Giroux. Blueliner Thomas Chabot remains the Senators' No. 1 fantasy D. Sanderson - drafted fifth overall in 2020 - now sits No. 2.
According to Flyers beat reporter Olivia Reiner, coach John Tortorella said he's "confident" forward Cam Atkinson (38.7%) will be healthy and ready for opening night Thursday. Entering his 12th NHL season, the 33-year-old has been battling an upper-body injury. Atkinson collected 23 goals and 27 assists in only 73 games this past season. Which, by Philadelphia's modest standards, was essentially top-tier. When healthy, he has a fantasy role to play in deeper leagues.
Managers shouldn't disregard winger Rickard Rakell (62.9%) as a viable fantasy commodity this season. Shuffled onto the top line with Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel, the former Duck sits in ripe position to enjoy a career year. The now 29-year-old managed 69 points in 77 games with Anaheim back in 2017-18. Alongside Pittsburgh's most dynamic forwards, a similar pace isn't out of the question for Rakell in his first full season as a Penguin.
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The "William Eklund" era is on hold in San Jose. After sitting idle with his squad in Europe, the just turning 20-year-old has been reassigned to the AHL. While this move will undoubtedly frustrate invested dynasty managers, there's upside to Eklund (6.5%) playing in the minors. First, he'll get some valuable experience in earning big minutes as a top prospect, and second, the Barracuda also play in San Jose - not Sweden, where he competed last year. Promotion is just a drive away.
Forward Jaden Schwartz (2.8%) is listed day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Doesn't sound too serious, but fantasy managers should check on the winger's status ahead of Wednesday's first contest in Anaheim. Schwartz could eventually see action alongside top center Matty Beniers - who scored four preseason goals and is already perceived as an early Calder favorite - although the Kraken are anticipated to launch 2022-23 with Jared McCann and Andre Burakovsky on that No. 1 unit to start.
Yes, it's only the preseason, and sure, the Blackhawks are one of the league's (ahem) weaker sides, but Saturday's 6-0 shutout by the Blues was still impressive. Especially for Jordan Binnington (84.9%), who made 24 saves, and hints he's in a much better place this fall. Fantasy managers should still feel a titch of trepidation in locking arms with Binnington - who's been okay to not-so-great since winning the Cup in 2019 - but this preseason play, and accompanying comments, offer promise of a mild resurgence. He could deserve consideration as a No. 2 in deeper fantasy leagues, or No. 3 in more shallow ESPN.com competition.
Forward Brandon Hagel (7.9%) merits monitoring in his first full year in Tampa. With Ondrej Palat settled in New Jersey and Anthony Cirelli injured to start the season, the Lightning will require secondary scoring from others, including the former Blackhawk. Slotted in on a second scoring line, Hagel could nicely serve as a depth asset or streaming option in deeper ESPN.com fantasy leagues. He scored 21 goals and 15 assists in 55 with Chicago before joining Tampa in 2021-22.
Despite making solid progress in his recovery from an oblique injury, John Tavares (94.9%) probably won't be ready for Wednesday's inaugural contest in Montreal. Barring any last minute miracles, we should plan to see Tavares back in action Monday, Oct. 17 versus the visiting Coyotes, or three days later against the travelling Stars. Forward William Nylander fills in at second-line center in the meanwhile.
Forward Brock Boeser (66.5%) could be fit to play in Vancouver's season opener after all. Initially projected to miss several contests after suffering a hand injury in late September, the 25-year-old was back to shooting the puck, with snap and vigor, over the weekend. Even is he isn't cleared straight away, as coach Bruce Boudreau hopes, we're now only talking a game or two before the Canucks top unit, also including J.T. Miller and Conor Garland, is reunited for good. Boeser wants to score 30 goals this year. Sounds good to us. Bonus note: KHL export Andrei Kuzmenko (33.3%) fit right in, piling up the points, on Elias Pettersson's top-six wing in preseason.
Wingers Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith - not Phil Kessel - appear poised to keep company with center Jack Eichel on Vegas's top line in Tuesday's opener in Los Angeles. Rostered in only 9.8% of ESPN.com leagues, Smith could serve as an early-season gem while competing in that coveted spot. While the past couple of seasons have been hum-drum at best for Smith, skating alongside Eichel nearly ensures an upswing. The 31-year-old might function as a nice fantasy surprise in deeper leagues.
As anticipated, rookie Cole Perfetti (11.9%) will launch 2022-23 on a top-six line with Pierre-Luc Dubois and Blake Wheeler. The only member of the Jets' top six not largely spoken for in drafted leagues, the 20-year-old is also expected to skate on the squad's secondary power play. Part of the way-too-early Calder conversation, Perfetti potted 15 points in 17 games with the Manitoba Moose last season, and seven in 18 with the big-league Jets.
Forward T.J. Oshie (50.8%) could be ready to go for the Capitals' season opener against the visiting Bruins on Wednesday. According to Samantha Pell of the Washington Post, the winger only needs clearance from the team after sustaining an injury in preseason play. A fixture on Washington's top power play with Ovechkin and Kuznetsov, Oshie projects to skate on a new look scoring line with Dylan Strome and Anthony Mantha at even strength. Winger Connor Brown (7.2%) is pencilled in to replace Tom Wilson alongside Ovechkin/Kuznetsov for the first two months of the season.